April 30, 2015

Take a Chance: This is Opportunity Time!

Sometimes the Holy Spirit can be inconvenient. There we are going about our lives when, bam! Something happens. I easily produce list after list of the rotten stuff, but that's not for this venue. Besides, often the rotten stuff turns out to be the foundation for living into a new creation. The list that is much harder for many of us to populate is the list of those “bam” moments when we are blindsided by the Holy Spirit and the possibility that death really does not have the last word.

But what about the ordinary? I love the dual nature of the word ordinary. Ordinary, as in the everyday or commonplace and, as in that which is set apart (same root as ordained). God can use the ordinary, yes even our ordinary stuff. In Southside Abbey's small groups, we engage the spiritual maturity muscles. These are required to build a practice of thankfulness for all that “was, and is, and is to come.”

Why might I be writing about these things? I am awakening to the possibility that stuff is not nearly as bad as we thought, that God is still using the ordinary. As I mentioned in my last post, I was gifted with the opportunity to mold the minds of some students at the School of Theology at Sewanee. I shared with them some of the realities the world is facing and how the church might be impacted or be impactful, and how they, in partnership with the Holy Spirit, have a hand in building a church that is passive or proactive.

I have read that between sixteen and seventeen trillion dollars (yes, trillion, with a “t”) is about to change hands. As the last of the Greatest and Builder generations meet their reward and the Baby Boomers retire, the world will see the largest transfer of wealth, ever. That amount is about what the U.S. owes our creditors, but I digress.

The point is: this is opportunity time! The Episcopal Church is primed. We are not a Johnny-come-lately, say-what-we-think-people-want-to-hear-so-we-can-draw-them-in, splash-in-the-pan outfit. No. Society is catching up to us. We have been on the forefront on issues of civil rights, gender equality, and sexuality. Don't get me wrong, we still have lots of work to do here, especially on issues of those who are differently-abled and those who are poor. But, we are standing on a foundation of centuries of theology, scholarship, prayer, and relationships.

I took much from my time with those seminarians, many of whom are young, really young. I, for one, am really excited about their ministry. What great and wonderful things does the Holy Spirit have in store for the church that they will lead?

I have seen it in practice in the microcosm already. Ministries, parishes, and dioceses that have taken a chance on someone who is totally unqualified, by traditional standards, to lead them are rockin'! Which leads me to to wonder: just who is qualified to do this work? To lead in this movement we are required to believe in the impossible, love the unloveable, be present where most people would not be bothered. We give away everything we are given. We rely not on our own understanding. Who better to do that than a bunch of kids?

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